Understanding Consumer Perceptions of Control: Part II

By Alex Ain
Woman with umbrella

Part I of this series highlighted the need for marketers to understand consumers’ desire to regain control as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic. Part II of this series profiles how marketers and researchers can generate distinct insights regarding consumer expression of control within the context of their brand and/or category.

We previously highlighted examples of consumer attempts to regain a sense of emotional and/or rational control, including behaviors and/or purchases associated with:

Emotional Control

  • Gifts
  • Family Time
  • Charity/Volunteering
  • Collections/Hobbies

Rational Control

  • Saving Time
  • Financial gain/savings
  • Work/job Changes
  • Health and Exercise purchases

Establishing an analytic approach through which we can understand how consumers prioritize both the emotional and rational aspects of any complex behavior is not only critical to generating insights but also particularly helpful to act on consumers’ need for reestablishing a sense of control as we evolve with the pandemic.

Collecting Consumer Insights

The challenge for marketers is unlocking the complex relationships between consumers’ conscious and subconscious, rational and emotional, and new and carryover decision drivers:

Venn Diagram 
Conscious & Subconscious Expressions
New & Carryover Perceptions & Behaviors Post Pandemic
Rational & Emotional Perceptions & Behaviors

The underlying question is, how can marketers collect insights to unlock these complex relationships to align their enhanced understanding of the pandemic’s impact on brands and products with effective communication back to consumer targets?

HawkPartners’ approach applies Behavioral Economics principles to shed light on the rational and emotional aspects of reestablishing control. Specifically, Behavioral Economic-based qualitative approaches and activities can explore the psychology of regaining control at both the System 1(emotional) level and at the System 2 (rational) level.

HawkPartners’ custom-designed process relies upon both immediate-response qualitative activities and more projective/reflective qualitative activities (after time for reflection and additional discussion), both within the same engagement and even within the same respondent interaction. With this approach, we can uncover both the subconscious and conscious expressions of, and insights relative to, regaining control post-pandemic. This can help Marketers benefit from developing well-planned and timely calls to action.

To visually explain the process to examine complex consumer behaviors
HawkPartners Process to Examine Complex Consumer Behaviors

Even simple, traditional exercises and projective techniques can be applied to unlock both emotional and rational insights, as long as they are approached through the lens of System 1 and System 2 exploration. Examples of these exercises can include:

  • Image Sorts
  • Word Associations
  • Thought Bubble Completion
  • “Before & After” Exercises

Moderator probing on the relationship between the relevant brand/product/service and regaining control will lead to unique insights to leverage across consumer touchpoints, as well as unlock the complexities of the conscious and subconscious, the rational and emotional and new/carryover behaviors, as we emerge from the pandemic.

While the ever-changing pandemic still may not allow consumers to feel completely in control, it is not our job as marketers to deliver literal control following the pandemic. Instead, we merely need to understand how and why consumers desire control, in order to leverage it across potential touchpoints.

Please reach out to Alex to keep the discussion going and explore this timely, relevant, and unique topic. For more perspectives, visit our website at www.hawkpartners.com.

Connect with Alex Ain about your Customer Experience strategy.